Speaking with the New York Post, one the victim’s family members, Tiara Hebb, said that her sister, Etheria Hebb, “was the most sweetest, kindest person ever” and “such a beautiful soul.”
Mother to a toddler, Malik, Etheria was described by her sister as “a wonderful mother” and “the life of the party” who “always did everything for everyone.”
A delivery driver for Amazon, she was later identified as one of the six victims who were killed when the Amazon warehouse collapsed in on itself as the Illinois tornado struck.
Baby Hebb, Etheria Hebb’s stepmother, said that her and her son Malik were “very close,” and that “It’s kinda hard but we will get through it by the grace of God.”
According to Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford, there were 45 people rescued and one airlifted. The six killed have since been identified as: Etheria Hebb, 34, of St. Louis; Deandre Morrow, 28, of St. Louis; Clayton Lynn Cope, 29, of Alton, Illinois; Larry Virden, 46, Collinsville, Illinois; and Kevin Dickey, 62, of Carlyle, Illinois.
The National Weather Service confirmed that about 150 yards of the Amazon warehouse collapse was destroyed while officials continue their search for people who may still be trapped in the rubble.
The tornado reportedly hit in the middle of a shift change for the warehouse. So the company does not know how many people were present at the time of the disaster. They usually employ around 190 people at the facility. But some drivers are often coming and going, especially during shift changes.
“There are no words to assuage the pain of losing a loved one and even fewer when that cost and that loss comes so suddenly,” said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. “Families say goodbye in a routine fashion when their loved ones go off to their jobs. We don’t think that they’ll never come home. It’s devastating.”
According to Pritzker, there have been no recent deaths or injuries reported since Saturday. He revealed that he spoke with the shipping company about the tragedy and that they agreed to help with the natural disaster recovery effort in any way they could.
“We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones,” said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, adding that “the news from Edwardsville is tragic.”
“All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis,” Bezos continued. “We extend our fullest gratitude to all the incredible first responders who have worked so tirelessly at the site.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the tornado,” said Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement. “We’re continuing to support our employees and partners in the area.”
According to NBC News, 100 emergency response vehicles arrived to the Amazon warehouse collapse, bringing along cranes to help move debris more quickly.
“It was a very severe weather event,” Police Chief Mike Fillback said Saturday morning. The size of the damage left by the tornado was described as the length of a football field.
Fire Chief James Whiteford is continuing his rescue efforts on the scene, but as of Sunday afternoon he was reportedly less optimistic that anyone else would be found.
“These walls are made out of 11-inch-thick concrete, and they’re about 40 feet tall,” he said, “so a lot of weight from that came down.”